Sean MacDougall

By the time you read this, the 43rd election will be over and Justin Trudeau will either have the opportunity to run the country for a second term, or we may see Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives have first attempt to form government.

One statistic that always seems to be a secondary topic is how many people actually voted.

The act of voting takes almost no time as many may know, yet there was only 68.5 per cent of Canadians that cast a ballot in 2015.

What about mandatory voting? That’s something that doesn’t come up in Canadian politics.

In Australia, there is mandatory voting. As authoritarian as it may sound, the government there actually makes it a very lively event from what I hear from Australian friends of mine.

Voting day does not simply involve a sparse office space with sealed cardboard boxes and sheets with voter information in Australia. There are barbecues, bouncy castles, and a general vibe of liveliness.

According to the Australian Election Commission, 91 per cent of the population voted in the 2016 election for the House of Representatives. This was also the lowest recorded amount of voter turnout since mandatory voting was introduced for the 1925 federal election in the country.

The other nine per cent of the Australian population that didn’t vote had to pay a fine for not voting. A whopping $18 Canadian.

Whether you agree or disagree with the concept of mandatory voting, it must be conceded that Australia’s voting turnout is better than Canada’s by a wide margin.

The act of voting in Canada is a right, according to Section 3 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, not a privilege. While there is no penalty for violating this right in the eyes of the law, it can be speculated that you penalize yourself by not participating in the democratic process.

Not voting means not having a say in who runs the country, who represents you on the national stage and how the government spends your tax dollars.

When we choose not to vote, whether by protest, apathy or any other reason, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity of having our voices heard.

Sean MacDougall

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(1) comment


Well, that was a pretty anodyne observation Sean. Next time, don't be so restrained. There's nothing people like more than a provocative and thought-provoking editorial voice!

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